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Dallas Buyers Club posterWhen we meet Texan man’s man Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) at the begin­ning of Dallas Buyers Club he is a mess – a shock­ing, dis­rep­ut­able, selfish com­bin­a­tion of drunk, thief, woman­iser and gam­bler. He doesn’t look so hot either. Soon after that, dur­ing a routine hos­pit­al check – routine for Ron is the equi­val­ent of an emer­gency for the rest of us – we dis­cov­er why: he has AIDS and, because it is only 1985 he has very little time left to live.

But because the word “ornery” was inven­ted in Texas, Woodroof has no inten­tion of suc­cumb­ing quietly, even steal­ing the exper­i­ment­al drug AZT from the hos­pit­al stores until he dis­cov­ers that it is even more tox­ic than the dis­ease he is afflic­ted by. A last chance stoned drive to Mexico intro­duces him to a struck-off doc­tor (Griffin Dunne) and a cock­tail of drugs that could extend his life – and mil­lions of oth­ers – if only he could get at them.

So begins a cru­sade – a pro­longed battle for Ron and oth­er suf­fer­ers to get the treat­ment they need in the face of oppos­i­tion from big pharma, a cor­rupt med­ic­al estab­lish­ment and a para­noid population.

DBC is a throw­back to the kind of gritty neo-realist dra­mas that American inde­pend­ent cinema of the 70s was renowned for and McConaughey is a rev­el­a­tion – his Indian sum­mer as a char­ac­ter act­or has eclipsed that mat­inée idol peri­od so com­pletely we may nev­er again be reminded of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.

Some in the gay com­munity are dis­ap­poin­ted that they are being rep­res­en­ted in this battle by a straight (or at least bisexu­al) hero when it was the efforts of thou­sands that even­tu­ally over­came the scan­dal but the film – and McConaughey – is so good that I have to for­give it.

Blue is the Warmest Colour posterAlso noted for its, um, frank­ness is last year’s sur­prise Cannes win­ner Blue Is the Warmest Colour – a very long, sexu­ally expli­cit, emo­tion­ally over­wrought, tale of an rela­tion­ship between two young women that starts with heat and ends in an abund­ance of tears and snot.

Notoriety isn’t enough to keep me in a cinema for almost three hours and neither – these days – is flesh. The per­form­ances (by Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol star Léa Seydoux and new­comer Adèle Exarchopolous) are com­mit­ted but the story seems to be miss­ing too many pieces. Hard to recommend.

This review first appeared in the February issue of Wellington’s FishHead magazine.